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​Students’ Union President Slammed For Saying WWI ‘Mural Of White Men’ Should Be Painted Over

Jess Hardiman

| Last updated 

​Students’ Union President Slammed For Saying WWI ‘Mural Of White Men’ Should Be Painted Over

The president of Southampton University Students' Union has said that a 'mural of white men' paying homage to war heroes should be painted over.

According to the BBC, Union President Emily Dawes said on Twitter: "Mark my words - we're taking down the mural of white men in the uni senate room, even if I have to paint over it myself."

The mural was painted by Sir William Rothenstein in 1916, and was created as a tribute to students killed in WWI - who as a result were sadly unable to collect their degrees. In the picture, you can see a fallen soldier collecting his honorary degree.

Southampton University Students' Union. Credit: Google Maps
Southampton University Students' Union. Credit: Google Maps

Dawes faced backlash for her tweet, and a petition calling on her to resign from her post has been signed more than 2,500 times.

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith also criticised Dawes' comments, saying that it was 'in poor taste' to 'disregard the heroic sacrifice of soldiers who sought to defend the very freedoms, including free speech, which [Ms Dawes] has chosen to exercise'.

One social media user also said: "It represents all of the students who became soldiers when called, some who never came back. Taking this down would be a massive dishonour."

Another called on Dawes to 'grow up', asking: "What do you want to do? Re-write history?!"


While Dawes initially stood by what she said, she has since issued an apology, saying: "Firstly, and most importantly, I would like to apologise for the offense and upset I have caused with what I have said. I never meant the disrespect to anyone past, present and future. I had no intention of the tweet being taken literally, and upon reflection have realised how inapprorpiate it was.

"My intention was to promote strong, female leadership and not the eradication and disrespect of history. I do not believe that to make progress in the future, we should look to erase the past.

"Once again, I would like to apologise for the offence and upset I have caused."

A statement from the students' union said: "We do not believe the statement was said to cause upset or disrespect to anyone and does not follow our mission or values."

A university spokesman also said that Dawes' comments 'do not represent the views of the university community'.

He added: "We are very proud to display the mural, painted in 1916, which serves as a memorial to all members of British universities who served in the Great War."

Featured Image Credit: University of Southampton

Topics: Students, News, University, UK

Jess Hardiman
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